I guess Mountaineer fans aren’t going to be treated to a new type of team this year. We will still have to sit and sweat out every game and be forced to watch ugly offensive basketball at times. Same old story. And we get to stay up five more times for a 9:00 pm tip. But a win is a win. West Virginia defeated Iowa State last night 70-65 with a late second half push to avoid the upset. I am proud of this team for continuing to fight and find a way to win. Last year or the year before, there is no chance that the Mountaineers come back after such a poor first 35 minutes. Derek Culver led the way with 18 and 12 and could really do whatever he wanted against the Iowa State bigs. I want to make something clear though. We can’t just throw it to him in the post every single time. What makes him great is his ability to create positioning, grab offensive rebounds, and go back up with it. He has greatly improved on the block but you run the risk of guys taking charges on him or the double team coming and having to settle for a kick and a jump shot for guys who aren’t prepared. The other guys are good enough to score. They went cold and didn’t do it last night but the shots will fall. Running an offense where everybody gets involved and the ball ends up in Culver’s hands after some rotation and a good pass is the best way to get him points.
Had to get that out. It was frustrating me seeing some of the comments on Facebook and Twitter. The rest of the offense had a pretty quiet night. Deuce came on late and along with Taz hit some big free throws. Speaking of Taz, how about that defensive play. Everybody has been asking for him to get more minutes. Huggs knows what he can do on the offensive end. Plays like that are what makes him a more complete player. For those that missed it, after a Deuce free throw, West Virginia set up in it’s press to try to keep Rasir Bolton from easily getting the inbound pass. An Iowa State player flashed to the corner but Taz attacked and was able to get a hand on it before it went off the Iowa State player and out of bounds.
There is still a lot of room for improvement and Huggs and the players talked after the game about how they need to stop playing down to their competition. That is a mental thing and can be fixed. They won’t have to worry about getting up for their next game. Tuesday night the Mountaineers travel to the Fog to take on the #5 Kansas Jayhawks. Huggs has to come up with a new defensive scheme or the Kansas guards will pick them apart getting north to south for easy buckets.
Miles McBride – A good game and a great game for Deuce all comes down to whether or not he is going to hit his mid range jump shots. He was not hitting them at the same clip as he did on Sunday. He shot 5-14 including 2-5 from beyond the arc. 3-9 from inside has to improve to make things easier on the offense. He played great defense down the stretch against Bolton but that doesn’t excuse the majority of the game where he was able to get 25 points. I know he wasn’t the only one guarding him, but he struggled at times. I think this team would benefit greatly with switching more screens. The bigs are athletic enough to keep up.
18 points, 2 assists, 6 rebound
Sean McNeil – McNeil goes back to struggling to find his shot. His only made bucket was a steal and a finish on a fast break. I still believe in him. The shots look good. Just not his night
2 points, 0 assists, 0 rebounds
Emmitt Matthews – I’ll keep saying it. Someone needs to get Emmitt to realize his role on this team. It is not taking jumpers.
9 points, 1 assists, 1 rebounds
Oscar Tshiebwe – Oscar looked really good at times but got benched for a good bit in the middle of the game for putting up a bad shot and not being able to keep up on the defensive end. Teams are going to exploit him all season as he can’t defend a pick and roll. He went up and dunked it after a feed from Culver though. I’ve been waiting for that so he gets some bonus points in my book.
12 points, 1 assist, 5 rebounds
Derek Culver – A very efficient night for Culver. He goes 7-10 from the field, shoots 4-6 from the free throw line if you don’t count those last intentional foul free throws, and he grabbed 6 offensive rebounds. He is the leader of this team and this win falls heavily on his shoulders. At half time, he had 10 of the 30 West Virginia points.
18 points, 2 assists, 12 rebound
Taz Sherman – Once again, Taz played a big factor down the stretch. He doesn’t have a great night shooting from the field but none of the guards did. He continued to attack, made a nice putback off of his own miss, and hit 6 big free throws. Don’t forget about the defensive play that changed the game. Taz gets the player of the game award.
10 points, 1 assists, 3 rebound
Jalen Bridges – Three missed shots for Bridges but two of them end up in Culver’s hands for a putback. During that stretch of the game, I don’t hate those shots. That was our offense a year ago. We’ll still have to go back to it at times and hope the bigs continue to rebound.
0 points, 0 assists, 0 rebound
Isaiah Cottrell – Cottrell only saw the court for three minutes. He will be a big contributor on this team but there will be other nights that the three bigs are doing their thing enough and staying out of foul trouble that he won’t be needed. This was one of those nights.
0 points, 0 assists, 1 rebound
Gabe Osabuohien – I need to start keeping track during games on what the percentage of charges taken are for Gabe. He had a couple in this one and a few big defensive plays. His last charge call got switched after going to the monitor but I still love the effort. He will have a lot of scrapes and bruises with how many times he got hit and dove on the floor. But if you ask him, it was all worth it for a win.
1 points, 4 assists, 7 rebound
Jordan McCabe – McCabe only saw the court for two minutes. He gave up a bad foul for an and one but not much else other than that.
0 points, 0 assists, 0 rebound